As an assistant coach with USA softball, LSU hitting coach Howard Dobson has worked with some of the best softball players in the United States.
One player stands out to him whom he’s helped grow over her softball career — LSU senior catcher Kellsi Kloss.
“[Kloss] has developed way more than I can expect,” Dobson said. “She’s one of my proudest moments as a hitting coach. She’s built herself into a .350 hitter hitting twelve, eight, nine homeruns a year.”
Over her LSU career, Kloss has transformed herself from a defensive catcher to one of the deadliest hitters to ever don a Tigers’ uniform.
Kloss used her newfound offensive firepower to become the third most prolific home run hitter in LSU history with 36 homers. Not only has her long ball improved, but also her offensive numbers across the board have consistently risen.
The Cypress, California native finished her rookie campaign hitting .250 from the plate and a .442 slugging percentage. By the end of her junior season, Kloss had developed into a fearsome hitter.
Kloss has elevated her batting average to .317, upped her slugging percentage to .582 and blasted a single-season career record 13 homers in her third season.
Kloss’ key to success is the oldest one in the book.
“I always give her a hard time and tell her ‘she’s a hitter made in a lab,’ because she’s built herself to what she is now,” Dobson said. “If you want to be great you have to put the time in. Those requirements are what she’s understood over her career that’s gotten her where she needs to be.”
Even after a record year, the senior was not satisfied with her offensive game. Kloss said she worked with the entire coaching staff to take her offensive game to yet another level.
This season Kloss has smashed nine balls over the outfield wall through just 38 games, and her slugging percentage has skyrocketed to .653, while maintaining an average above .300.
Arguably her best performance 2016 came on the road against Louisiana Tech on March 15.
In a close game where the Lady Techsters hanging around, Kloss went 4-for-6 and blasted three home runs, including two long shots in a 15-run Tigers sixth inning, to blow open the game to 30-8.
Kloss said one of the biggest influences has been LSU senior infielder Sandra Simmons.
“[Sandra is] someone I’ve grown to love to be around, throughout the eight years I’ve played with her,” Kloss said. “I’m going to be really, really sad when my time with her is up. She’s someone that gets me, and I can always go to in times of trouble or times of [celebration].”
This season is the eighth the duo has played together, after being on the same travel softball team for four years prior to their arrival to LSU.
Simmons echoed the sentiments saying over their eight years together Kloss has been a consistent influence on her as a player as well as a person. Their relationship has not gone unnoticed from LSU coach Beth Torina, who had not recruited either player but has been glad to have them over their careers.
“It’s neat they’ve been together for so long. That’s really special,” Torina said. “The bond between them helps them to succeed. They always have someone to rely on even when they are far away from home.”
Photo courtesy of LSU Sports Information.